Wednesday, October 21, 2015

• Planning Commission Meeting October 2015

Apartment project vote ends in a deadlock and is sent on to the council to sort out.

2.1 Villa Siena Apartment Project
This is for 170 units on Prielipp Road.

The big questions revolved around a zone change request by the applicant from a density of 5-8 units per acre to 14-20 acres per unit.

What are some of the pros and cons of higher density?

Traditionally, the pros were that apartments were the places that young people would have as their first homes, along with those that couldn't afford to buy, or even rent, a house. Also people that only had temporary plans to be in a given area. Usually not a place that people would set down roots.

The cons include higher volumes of traffic, and uses of emergency services compared to less densely populated areas.

Do the traditional roles still apply to apartments these days? 

When I was first on my own, a one bedroom apartment (really a unit in a triplex) in San Clemente cost $500 a month. A small  house in the same area would easily have been over $750 a month, even if you could find one, and a tract house would easily have been  more than $1000 a month. Therefore, someone that was just starting out in life, their best bet was to rent an apartment.

Fast forward to today in Wildomar and a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1800sf house in Windsong is being advertised for $1695 per month. On the same website ( there is an apartment, in the same area as the proposed project, that is advertised for between $1757-$2096 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1215sf apartment for rent.

I'm not sure who is renting apartments at that price. Certainly not the average high school graduate like back in the 1900's.
At least the way it shakes out in Wildomar, apartments are more expensive than houses to rent, and not a solid option for those on the lower end of the economic scale, even if you're generally in favor of such projects.

Does that mean we're supposed to nix all proposed apartment projects that come through the planning department? Seems unreasonable to suggest such a thing.

The area that this is proposed for, will be a bustling area in the next ten years once the MSJC campus goes in, and the Rancon Medical And Education Center. There is also an assisted living area in the works just to the west of this project.

It all comes down to your philosophy of how Wildomar should develop in the years to come. Unless you're a No Appartments, None of the Time type of person, they have to go somewhere in the city. If you look at that area, it's already pretty much developed in a non rural and non tract home way. It's near the Inland Valley hospital and Kaiser Permanente, Southern California Edison, and other large tilt up style commercial buildings near the freeway.

Seems like a natural place for very high density housing, unless you're against all such projects in the first place, considering there is already plenty of VHDR apartments already in that area.

Ok, with all that said, the final vote was a draw. 2-2 with commissioner Gary Brown being absent (hope he's not ailing). Based on the last meeting that this came up in, I'm plunking down my chips that he'd have gone with a "no" vote had he been in attendance.

Thing is, the commission could vote 5-0 on an item and the final decision rests with the council, and they can overturn it. It'll be interesting to see how they deal with this at the November 12th meeting.

"No" votes were from the newest member of the commission John Lloyd and Chairman Veronica Langworthy. The yes votes were from Stan Smith and Dan Bidwell.

Longtime resident out at The Farm, George Taylor, spoke during the public comments section and after he reminded us about the Wildomar being the "high density capital of the world" and the "fast food capital of the world" he made a fair point worth considering.

Apartment dwellers do not put down roots and statistically crime normally goes up in high [density] areas. Changing from 5-8 units per acre to 14-20 certainly doesn't help that cause. When we talked about the traffic study and we talked about the environmental impact —really it's the human impact that is the problem.
— George Taylor

It's going to be interesting to see how that end of town functions ten years from now once it's mostly built out.

2.2 Zoning Ordinance Amendment
This was in relation to the recent lawsuit that we settled, that cost us $200,000. ($120k to the AIPs attorneys, and $80k for our guys). Nothing more to report on this that wasn't said at the city council meeting but I did want to share commissioner Stan Smiths thoughts on it (click here for a link to that blog and video of the council comments).

Personally I think it's a travesty on the part of this Alliance. We have individuals that come in here, and pretend that they're friends of the city, and they turn around and sue. It's really all about money. In my opinion they're not interested in what happens in, or benefits Wildomar.
— Planning Commissioner Stan Smith

3.0 Election of a New Vice-Chairman
This is to fill only a few more weeks when they'll be electing a new chairman and vice chairman in December. Though there was a tongue in cheek move to place absent commissioner Gary Brown into that spot, Dan Bidwell was happy to take the post for the remaining duration of the term.

Before the meeting began, new commissioner John Lloyd had already been sworn in. I was hoping to get a pic of it in real time, but scheduling made that impossible.

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"Some people see the world as it is and ask why. I see the world as it could be and ask where will they all park." ― George Bernard Shaw

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